The Balancing Act At PSU and the Moral Compass

Posted: November 11, 2011 in Uncategorized
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I was trying to avoid the topic of late that has been all over the news including our websites; Penn State University and Child Molestation. At this point, everyone is looking to blame someone, anyone they can find in order to pin this travesty upon. I thought that it was interesting that on Veteran’s Day that we examine a guiding fundamental principle that is the backbone for our military; the Chain of Command. It is the core belief that is instilled in every soldier and puts the responsibility in the hands of those who are in charge  the “accountability” piece to the one’s they have the task of running their respective divisions.

As an ex-military member, I do not remember in any of my training where I had to balance what I told to the people in my chain of command  against my moral beliefs. My moral compass had no direction as I was trained only to follow the commands given to me and where things are out of order report the issue to the next command and let the process take care of itself. There is no where it tells me to follow up, it simply directs me to give the problem over to those who are put in charge over me and well in this scenario the nation. Now in the civilian world this concept comes up for debate especially in the case where the moral compass demands follow up. Follow up is outside of the military process undermines the very fiber and core principal of “accountability” in the Chain of Command (COC)

It appears that anything outside of the military is frowned upon especially when it is examined under a microscope. You have a lot of people saying that the rules in the military and the rules in the civilian sector are totally different, but are they? When you have a problem on your job isn’t there a process in place for you to get your issues resolved?

Every single company in that is in existent has some way for you to get your voice heard until the situation is resolved. So what is the difference between the Military COC and The Civilian/Corporate COC? The answer is the Moral piece; the way the moral compass points and the location of such to include but not limited to environment and perceived perceptions, directives and the human piece.

When I look at the Joe Paterno situation I see in some ways the Oliver North situation all over again except the court is in the Civilian Sector also in the Court of Public Opinion. The court of Public is the most difficult place to get justice because often times the lines that are drawn oppose decisions handed down by the justice systems that people in a democracy have sworn to uphold and obey.

The court of public opinions puts weight on things such as taboos, mores, and even folkways; common innate principles that may or may not offend the written laws but the laws of morality. As the leader of a “ Save the Child Movement” I am appalled at the inaction of the moral compass to direct Joe Paterno to follow up.

Furthermore, I am angry that the one who discovered it did not activate his moral compass after doing what was the right thing initially and that is to report it up to and through his Chain of Command where M.r Paterno’s stalled.

The problem with the Civilian Chain of Command is the moral component and unlike it’s counterpart mostly everything in the military is black and white, no gray. The moral component of the military is suppressed for the doctrine of war and security of nation, again a different directive that does not allow a moral component. A moral soldier is an enigma and a liability in the true sense if serving in the military because his moral compass puts lives at risk. There are a lot of stories that have been told and documented about moral issues of war but to put it in place war is ugly, it is brutal, it savage and it is primitive and at times necessary to protect a nation.
The war that was waging on the campus of Penn State University had different casualties and was waged on the innocent; children. It is because of this people are outraged at the position of Joe Paterno who if in the military would have been exonerated because he reported the incident to his superior thus the accountability leaves him and is solely on the shoulders of those who are over him.

Unfortunately, for Mr. Paterno this is not the military, the moral compass should have directed him to follow up and be more engaging especially considering the nature of the crime and where it was happening. The Civilian Court of Public Opinion is fickle and emotional at best and the outcomes don’t necessarily take in the account the totality of the circumstances; all people know in this court system is to follow their hearts and minds while letting their moral compasses be their guide.

If this was the basis for all of the entities that use the chain of command, what would be the condition of society if we where indeed driven by a moral compass rather than one that is based on the rules of law or establishing procedures and accountability for those who are put in a position of authority. How would democracy look from those glasses or under the microscope of the world?

Rico D’Sean Knox III
Chief Visionary and Change Officer
RDK Enterprises, Inc


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